The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.
The WildeBeat edition 58: All Around Lake Tahoe, part 1
This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.
The Lake Tahoe California area is famous for skiing, resorts, and casinos. But there's a bypass around all of that. This week on The WildeBeat, All Around Lake Tahoe.
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News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.
This is program number fifty eight.
I'm Steve Sergeant.
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STEVE: I'm hiking southbound on the Pacific Crest Trail from Echo Summit. That's where, if you're driving east, highway fifty starts to descend into the Lake Tahoe basin. This section of trail is also part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. About 8 miles in, I arrive at Showers Lake. It's a relatively small lake on a pine forested bench. A group of backpackers are camped beside the lake. They've just finished a dinner that was carried in and catered by volunteers on horseback.
STEVE ANDERSEN: [PMD66001.WAV; 03:39] ...this trip is being catered-to, because it is our twenty-fifth anniversary celebration hike...
STEVE: Steve Andersen is the president of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.
STEVE ANDERSEN: Everyone is making a donation of fifteen hundred dollars or more to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association to be on this trek to help celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.
STEVE ANDERSEN: It started with an idea from a gentleman named Glenn Hampton, who had worked for the Forest Service. And he had the idea of putting a trail on the rim, all around Lake Tahoe. And so he got that started; that idea, and started putting it together about twenty six years ago. And then we formed an organization called the Tahoe Rim Trail Association twenty five years ago, hence, our twenty fifth anniversary celebration hike. So it was all one gentleman's idea, "gosh, wouldn't it be great if we could have a trail that went all the way around the lake, with a view on the rim."
STEVE: ...Do you get a lot of variety in the background of people who sign up for a trip like this?
STEVE ANDERSEN: Of course you're going to have people who are interested in doing something outdoors. They come from all walks of life. We have CPAs and mathematicians, and waitresses. So we have quite a range of people who are on this trip... We have one gentleman who is seventy one years old... and a twenty-three year old. So it's an interesting range of age.
STEVE: So where are we at on the trip?
STEVE ANDERSEN: Well we're now at about... seventy some miles on the trip. And on day five.
STEVE: How far did you go today? Can you describe some of the sites along the route today?
STEVE ANDERSEN: Well today we came from Big Meadows, and we climbed up to a lake called Round Lake, which is about three and a half miles into today's hike. Which is an absolutely gorgeous little alpine lake, and then we moved on to an area called Meiss Meadows, which is where the Tahoe Rim Trail meets up with the Pacific Crest Trail. And from there we moved on to a lake called Showers Lake, which is where we're standing right now, and that's about another three miles. So that's what's typical -- and that's about a fourteen mile day -- that's an eight mile day today. Today's kind of a rest day.
#STEVE: Most of the party are already settling into their sleeping gear. But Nicole Anderson, no relation to Steve, is still up, writing in her journal.
NICOLE ANDERSON: Well, I've just been trying to keep track of most everything. I have to say the food's been pretty good. So I have to write down those experiences. The meditation along the trails is what I write mostly, 'cause that's when the good thoughts come.
STEVE: So what inspired you to take this trip in the first place?
NICOLE ANDERSON: Well I've been wanting to do a long backpacking trip for a while... So I was with my friend, we were going on a hike one day, and she introduced me to Steve, ...and he said, "Yeah, we're going on the Tahoe Rim Trail." And I said, "Oh, perfect!" I don't have to plan anything, it's just set. I'll just go and raise money. And that was exactly the time when I wanted to go and I've been living here for almost a year, and so it's local, and it's a great to kind of get to know Tahoe even better.
NICOLE ANDERSON: ...I just turned twenty three a few weeks ago, and the next youngest person on the trip is forty, and so it's really great to talk to all these people who have gone through so many experiences... and it's really inspiring to see all these people and they're still hiking and still out there and still tackling new ways of life.
STEVE: It was a cool, quiet night, with occasional gusts of light wind. I heard the horsemen get up to start cooking breakfast before sunrise. Soon after the sky was light enough to see, everyone was packed. Breakfast went down fast. And less than an hour after sunrise, the group was on the trail.
STEVE ANDERSEN: ...We hike for fifty minutes, and we rest for ten minutes. And that really helps get most people around on a trip. Of course if we have opportunities for scenic events, we of course stop for that and we'll take an extra ten or fifteen minutes for photo-ops and for them to enjoy the reason that they're out here.
STEVE: So how's everybody holding up?
STEVE ANDERSEN: [PMD66009.WAV; 01:05] I am so impressed with this group. I've guided for eight years and this is the best group yet. They are strong, they are determined, we are doing something that's a little more aggressive than normal, and they are with it! They are just so excited. I have no doubt everyone's going to make it.
GARY HANNEMAN: ...I'm seventy one, I'm the eldest in the group apparently, they tell me, and I'm headed for a hundred and twenty one. And I see this as just one of the pleasures on the way...
STEVE: Gary Hanneman hikes near the front of the group.
GARY HANNEMAN: ...I have not camped out since I was a boy scout, maybe twelve years old... All of it is new to me. I'm enjoying all of it, connecting a whole lot closer to nature with each different campground, camp site, camping experience... There has been grandeur and awe, if you will, when you see the mountains... and I can only say you should be here.
STEVE: They crossed highway fifty, and arrived at Echo Lake. Nada [Nay-da] Vogt is one of the support crew waiting there for them.
STEVE: Hi there! So I hear you've been taking care of all these folks.
NADA VOGT: We have. We have a real big group effort...
STEVE: So what all are you doing for them?
NADA VOGT: [00:26] Well we're moving their caches to every trailhead that we can get to easily. We volunteered to do this so that they can clean up, wash socks, you know, do things like that, that just seem important. It gets less important as they go on I'm sure.
STEVE: So what have you brought them today?
NADA VOGT: Well we brought very little actually. Potato chips, and Fritos, ice cold grapes and bananas, and the rest they're going to get at the market.
STEVE: Everyone scrambles to swap gear between the duffle bags that Nada brings, whenever she meets them at road crossings. They repack their packs, and fill them with food for the next couple of days. Lorenz Robinson looks a little more relaxed than some of the hikers.
LORENZ ROBINSON: Well, initially my main motivation was to dry out from vodka and cigars, and it's working very well. Thank you.
STEVE: Has it been what you expected?
LORENZ ROBINSON: Well, I think my body told me things that weren't true. And I found out I could do a lot of these things. I'm learning a lot on the trip about water and weather and weight and distribution that are really important to do this.
STEVE: What was your wilderness travel and backcountry experience before this?
LORENZ ROBINSON: Zero. I hadn't done it before. Other than practicing for this hike.
STEVE: So what would you say to the ordinary couch potato who thought, "I could never do that?"
LORENZ ROBINSON: Well, it's really tough in the beginning, but after a while, you find out you really can do it, and it's not nearly as difficult as you think, once you get a little adjusted.
LORENZ ROBINSON: If I had to put it in one phrase I'd say it makes you feel alive. Like this is something that is so incredible that, and makes you feel so good, despite the pain and the strain... you just feel so good.
STEVE: All packed-up, everyone hikes over to the dock. They'll take a boat ride across Echo Lake.
STEVE: So Steve, what's ahead for these people?
STEVE ANDERSEN: ...Today we've got another six miles of pure climb, and then the next day we get up early in the morning about seven in the morning and we're going to head out to Richardson Lake. So that's an eighteen mile, probably the hardest section that they're going to do in this whole entire hundred and sixty five miles. 'Cause in that eighteen miles includes Dick's Pass, and it's a back-breaker.
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STEVE: As the water taxi revved-up to cross the lake, I knew they were heading into the most difficult and spectacular section of the trail. A week later, I'd hear from them, about how the rest of the trip went.
You can find out more about the Tahoe Rim Trail, and hear a high fidelity stereo version of this show, on our web site.
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Next time — part 2 of All Around Lake Tahoe.
The Wildebeat is produced by Steve Sergeant, with help from Jean Higham, as a public service of Effable Communications. Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. Please see our website for ways to support future editions of The WildeBeat. Contribute your comments to webmaster at wildebeat dot net, or call our comment line at 866-590-7373.
This has been The Wildebeat, program number fifty eight. Thank you for listening.
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